08/17/2017 Dose

FOR THURSDAY   TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 133

“See how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1, GOD’S WORD Translation)

harmonyWhat a beautiful image of unity the psalmist offers here. Indeed, God is so pleased when God children are living together in harmony, just as we are when we see our children doing so. Unfortunately, we have witnessed a lot of disunity in our world – especially in this past week with the violence incurred through those who arrogantly proclaim that they are racially superior to others. Such attitudes should be repugnant to any Christian.

The only way for us to experience the blessing of unity which this psalm expresses is for us to look at each other differently. The call of the apostle in Philippians 2:3 tells us how to do this: “Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves”. One doesn’t need torches and clubs and shields to do this.

Eugene Peterson encourages us as a faith community to view one another with a joyful expectation, “wondering what God will do today in this one and in that one, understanding that they are new persons each and every morning, sparkling with beauty and dripping with possibility” [Conversations, p. 915]. In doing this, we will not only change the way we see others but also the way we see ourselves.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father of us all, please eliminate all the bigotry and hatred which incites violence in the world, and let this begin with me. Amen.

*The Scripture Reading for each day is selected from the Revised Common Daily Lectionary used in A Disciple’s Journal – 2017 by Steven W. Manskar]

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08/15/2017 Dose

FOR TUESDAY   TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING: Genesis 39:1-23

“Potiphar liked Joseph so much that he made him his trusted servant. He put him in charge of his household and everything he owned. . . . So the warden placed Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in that prison. Joseph became responsible for everything that they were doing.” (Genesis 39:4 & 22, GOD’S WORD Translation)

Joseph and his coatI’ve become increasingly intrigued by the story of Joseph through the years. As I child I learn how he was his father’s favorite and so was given a coat of many colors. As I began to learn more of the story, I discovered that as a youth Joseph was not the most likable sibling. Instead, he acted like a brat who was more that ready to point out how he would always be greater than his brothers – hence, their decision to get rid of him.

Yet, in the next phase of his life, Joseph is a different kind of man. As an adult, everyone seems to like Joseph and are willing to entrust him with many things. Potiphar puts Joseph in charge of his household and then the warden pretty much puts Joseph in charge of the whole prison. Then later on the Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of the kingdom of Egypt (Genesis 41:40).

Joseph was not the same as he was way back then. Neither do we need to be locked into our past and nor should we imprison others behind our first impressions of them. God has a wonderful way of helping us grow and mature as we are transformed into the kind of men and women God intends for us to be.

PRAYER: God of New Beginnings, help us to be willing to see others in a new light as they (and we) grow more and more into the persons You want us to be. Amen.

*The Scripture Reading for each day is selected from the Revised Common Daily Lectionary used in A Disciple’s Journal – 2017 by Steven W. Manskar]

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08/14/2017 Dose

FOR MONDAY   TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING: Genesis 37:29-36

All his other sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, ‘No, I will mourn for my son until I die.’ This is how Joseph’s father cried over him. Meanwhile, in Egypt the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials and captain of the guard.(Genesis 37:35-36, GOD’S WORD Translation)

Meanwhile back at the ranch“Meanwhile…. back at the ranch”. This is what filmmakers would use back in the day of silent films to piece together the footage filmed for a story. Such scene shift cues were used to keep the audience in the know that something is always simultaneously happening in different places.

Surprisingly, such segues are used in the bible. The jealous brothers of Joseph had acted rashly by throwing him into a cistern, leaving him to die. Thinking somewhat better later on, they returned to the cistern to set him free but his was gone. To cover-up their crime, they came up with a callous plan to dupe their dad into thinking that Joseph was slaughtered by wild animals. Poor Jacob had given up on ever getting to see his beloved son again. But there it is, a caption that let’s us know what’s going on elsewhere: “Meanwhile, in Egypt”.

No matter how hopeless your life might seem, God wants to insert a “Meanwhile” in your story. We may not see that caption as clearly as we can on a movie screen or in a comic book but it’s there all the same. When are hearts are breaking, God is always a work bringing about a brand new chapter in your life.

PRAYER: We must confess, Eternal God, that sometimes we can’t see how things will ever change in our world. Meanwhile, You are always seeking to help us find our way through to where You long for us to be. Amen.

*The Scripture Reading for each day is selected from the Revised Common Daily Lectionary used in A Disciple’s Journal – 2017 by Steven W. Manskar]

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08/10/2017 Dose

FOR THURSDAY   TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING: Acts 17:10-15

“The people of Berea were more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive God’s message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17;11, GOD’S WORD Translation)

eagerly listeningWhen the apostle Paul went about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ not everyone received his message. Some were hesitant to accept his words and others would close their minds and reject his message. Not so with the people of Berea who were “more open-minded” and who “were very willing to receive” the message Paul had to offer them from God.

What is your state of mind or attitude when you come to hear the message of God proclaimed or to be in conference with others about how God is leading us. Do you come with an open mind and are you eagerly ready to receive a new message from God?

According to Pastor Ed Rea, the original word for “very willing to receive” meant “to rush forward with anticipation, expectation, and receptivity”. The Bereans had an “enthusiasm and a hunger” to receive a word from the Lord. They were “excited about hearing what God might have for them”.

If this doesn’t describe your attitude about hearing what God has to say to you, maybe this is why you haven’t been hearing from God lately. Let us focus in on God as we give the time and our full concentration, eagerly anticipating what God has to say.

PRAYER: Loving God, when You come to share with us Your Good News, may our hearts be open and our mind be alert to listen. Amen.

*The Scripture Reading for each day is selected from the Revised Common Daily Lectionary used in A Disciple’s Journal – 2017 by Steven W. Manskar]

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08/09/2017 Dose

FOR WEDNESDAY   TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 43:1-7

“When you go through the sea, I am with you. When you go through rivers, they will not sweep you away. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, and the flames will not harm you.”  (Isaiah 43:2, GOD’S WORD Translation)

These times are hardThis is one of my favorite, “go-to” verses of the Bible. No matter how deep the waters get and no matter how hot the temperature rises God will be with me. The purpose of this Divine presence is to get me through it all. Other scriptures reaffirm this wonderful promise of God. Like Hebrews 13:5 which says: “I will never abandon you or leave you”.

In shortdailydevotions.com, Leslie McCarthy writes: “God may not always change our circumstances, but has promised to see us through and never leave us. At first this can seem like little comfort and help, but as we grow and mature, we see the true gift that it is. Quietly trusting, even when our hearts are absolutely breaking, will bring us through to the other side with a confidence in our God that we had not before experienced.”

Since God is always with us as we pass through the trials of life, God sees what we are going through and God cares. Even in the midst of all the threats of war escalating throughout the world, we can trust in God who will guide us today and lead us as God continues to hold on to us through the days to come.

PRAYER: Almighty God, when we feel so overwhelmed by the worries of this world, remind us that You will be with us and You will get us through. Amen.

*The Scripture Reading for each day is selected from the Revised Common Daily Lectionary used in A Disciple’s Journal – 2017 by Steven W. Manskar]

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08/08/2017 Dose

FOR TUESDAY   TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING: Genesis 32:3-21

“Jacob was terrified and distressed. So he divided the people, the sheep and goats, the cattle, and the camels into two camps . . . Then Jacob prayed”  (Genesis 32:7, 9a, GOD’S WORD Translation)

The day before Jacob was to see his twin brother Esau again after years of separation filled his heart with anxiety and fear. Their relationship had been a struggle for their entire life. Even in their mother’s womb they seemed to be at odds with one another. By taking advantage of his brother when he was tired and hungry, Jacob stole his birthright as the firstborn. Then he duped his dad, Isaac, into giving him the blessing intended for Esau. Jacob ended up fleeing from his home fearing retaliation from Esau.

jacob prayingNow after all these year, God was leading Jacob to return home where he would have to face his brother again. Understandably he was “terrified and distressed. Jacob, always the schemer and plotter began to prepare for this precarious encounter. He started by dividing all he had into two camps – not an easy task since he had been so prosperous. After doing all that, he finally got around to praying.

Some question the sincerity or the intention of this prayer. He begins by reminding God of God’s promise that it would go well if he returned. He then feigned being unworthy of all his success before confessing his fears of Esau. Then he returned to reminding God of his promise. While there was a lot of talking in his prayer, Jacob did little listening. This led to his dark night of the soul where he struggled not with Esau nor anyone else but with God.

PRAYER: Holy God who understands all about us and who knows us more than we even know ourselves. Open our ears that we might listen to You in our prayers more and more. Amen.

*The Scripture Reading for each day is selected from the Revised Common Daily Lectionary used in A Disciple’s Journal – 2017 by Steven W. Manskar]

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08/07/2017 Dose

FOR MONDAY   TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 17:1-7, 15

“The path violent men have followed, I will not travel. Violence is not my way. Your ways and Your voice now guide my journey.”  (Psalm 17:4, The Voice)

beau's wedding

I recently had the joy of performing the wedding of my nephew and his fiance on a beach in San Diego. Later this year, I’ll be doing the same for his younger brother at the home of my oldest brother. In between, I’ll be doing two more weddings – one at a venue in downtown Nashville for a young lady who was in one of my confirmation classes years ago and the other in the sanctuary of our church for another young lady who is a member of my current church family.

While each of the weddings will be held in different locations, the covenant promises of love made at each service will the same. Also, the blessing that I will offer for every couple will be one that I offer for all who will read this blog: “May your home be a haven of blessing and a place of peace”.

The world is such a violent place today. According to the scriptures, violence has always been a part of the history of humankind. Such violence is not God’s way. While we may not be able to stop all this violence, the least we could do is make it stop in our homes and in your lives. The only way for this to happen is for us to pray like the psalmist did: “Your ways and Your voice now guide my journey”.

PRAYER: Let there be peace on earth, O Lord, and let it begin with me in my home and in my community so that it may change the world. Amen.

*The Scripture Reading for each day is selected from the Revised Common Daily Lectionary used in A Disciple’s Journal – 2017 by Steven W. Manskar]

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